By Scott Leysath

As the ice thaws, most outdoor enthusiasts' thoughts turn from mallards and whitetails to longbeards and largemouths. Warmer weather also signals a departure from hearty stews and heavy cream sauces in favor of lighter, more vibrant springtime fare. But while the cold weather hunting seasons may have passed, with any luck a few ducks are still on hand from last year's harvest, seasoned and ready to slap on a smoky grill.

My wife tells me that my culinary creations are getting spicier, perhaps a little too spicy. Although I've never been a fan of very hot foods, it does seem as though lately I've been using more fiery ingredients like jalapeño peppers and fresh garlic. Supposedly, one's senses of taste and smell diminish with age, which is a little disconcerting to me since I cook for a living. Chefs rely on taste and smell to make adjustments to just about everything they prepare. Fresh garlic, for instance, varies in heat and pungency. Some are milder than others, so recipes need to be tweaked according to the nature of the garlic in stock. The hotter the garlic, the less you'll need for the recipe.

This recipe is long on garlic. If garlic is not your thing, this probably isn't the recipe for you. However, keep in mind that everyone else at the table will likely partake in these tasty duck tidbits, so you may be at a disadvantage when the aroma starts wafting through the room. Paired with some fresh fruit or berries, cheeses, and fresh bread, the skewers work as an appetizer, light lunch, or a grazing supper. I strongly recommend that, for this recipe, you use fresh garlic cloves rather than any pre-chopped garlic from a jar. Processed garlic is simply not as flavorful.

Garlicky Duck Skewers

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Marinade Time: 1-4 hours
Cooking Time: Less than 10 minutes
6 appetizer servings


  • 6-8 skinless duck breast fillets
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10-12 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • wooden skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes


  1. Slice duck fillets across the "grain" of the meat into 3/4-inch-thick strips.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Add sliced duck to the bowl, toss to coat evenly, cover, and refrigerate for one to four hours, turning occasionally.
  3. Remove meat from marinade and drain, but do not pat dry. Place skewers into the meat and grill to desired doneness over a well-oiled, medium-hot grill. For medium-rare, cooking time is approximately three to four minutes.

How to Tame Your Garlic

Roasting whole garlic bulbs or individual cloves will make them sweeter and less pungent. When using a whole bulb, slice about 1/4-inch off the top and place in some heavy-duty foil. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil over the top, close up the foil, and place in a 400-degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes. Once roasted, the softened garlic can be squeezed out of the bulb and used in place of raw garlic.